Construction rate in the Israeli settlements increases; Quartet support withdrawal from Gaza in coordination with the Palestinians
Palestine-Israel, Military, 3/3/2004
The American ambassador in Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, announced on Tuesday that Washington has not taken a decision yet on the Israeli unilateral separation plan with the Palestinians, while other members in the Quartet committee consider that any Israeli withdrawal should be made in coordination with the Palestinians.
Kurtzer said in a press conference he had held in Jerusalem "we have not taken yet any position ( on this plan) because we know that the prime minister ( Ariel Sharon ) intends to discuss it with his government for approval." He added that the US made preliminary talks with the Israeli government on this question and on some of its details. The American ambassador indicated that Washington is still committed to the peace process regardless to the Presidential elections due on November.
For his part, the new Russian special envoy to the Middle east, Alexander Galogin, said yesterday in a press conference that withdrawal from Gaza "is a good matter in order to resume the peace process but this should be made in coordination with the Palestinians."
However, the UN special envoy for the Middle East, Terry Rod Larsen, considered that "withdrawal from Gaza totally coincides with the objectives of the Quartet and cannot be implemented unilaterally."
At the same level, rate of construction works increased in the Israeli settlements at a rate of 35% in 2003, in comparison with 2002. This is despite the roadmap plan which is advocated and supported by the US and states to halt the building of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The Israeli statistical bureau said that 1850 residential units were built in the settlements of Gaza and the West Bank in 2003. These figures, however, are considered a new evidence of the expansion of settlements in the Palestinian territories.
The announcement of these statistics comes after talks made by an Israeli delegation with the American administration officials and the release of signals from Washington stating its approval on Sharon plans to evacuate the settlements of Gaza and large number of the settlements in the West bank.
Earlier in the day, some 2000 Palestinians took part in the funeral eulogy of the Palestinian President advisor for media affairs and human rights Khalil al-Zibn after gunmen assassinated him Tuesday earlier in the day.
Palestinian sources expected that the killers committed their crime for serving certain political sides fighting for power especially in Gaza, while daughter of the late Journalist Zeinab al-Zibn accused Palestinians of killing him.
The PLO and the Palestinian authority and the Palestine national liberation movement ( Fatah ) eulogized al-Zibn and the Palestinian President Arafat described his assassination as shameful operation against one who was working in the service of his people and homeland.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army chief of staff Moshe Yaloun announced that his forces will intensify its operation in the Palestinian territories within the few coming weeks in light of the escalation of what he called activities if terrorist organizations.
Israeli forces incur in Gaza, detain five Palestinians in the West bank
One Palestinian killed; demonstrations in West Bank against the wall
Two Israelis were killed near the Green line; Scores of Palestinians wounded in an Israeli breaking in of al-Aqsa mosque
Beshara and the Israeli wall
Rafah crossing was closed, detention in the West Bank; Sharon escalates criticism against Qurei' government
Arafat: Separation wall bars establishment of Palestinian state
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